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oneupweb

/ Integrated Search Engine Optimization & Marketing

Target Google’s Top Ten to Sell Online—Oneupweb Study Shows


| a white paper with pizzazz

Executive Summary /::

In an effort to substantiate SEO industry claims that first page listings in natural search results increase
traffic and sales, Oneupweb reviewed data collected by its proprietary conversion analytics technology,
ROI Trax®, to determine average increases in traffic and conversion rates occurring when sites move higher
in Google search results. Overall, the data shows that improving one’s position on search engine results pages
(SERP) is effective in increasing both traffic and the rate at which that traffic purchases, indicating that well-
positioned sites attract a more qualified customer. Search engine optimization is one method of improving
one’s position on SERPs.

The first month a site appears on the second or third page of Google’s results for a targeted search term, traffic
will increase significantly, an average of five times its previous monthly rate. The second month, traffic will be
nine times greater than before it reached that position. There’s also a slight increase in sales—up from no sales
prior to reaching the second or third page.

Getting listed on Google’s first page increases both traffic and conversion rates—a double bonus. The
first month, traffic triples. The second month it doubles again to more than six times the traffic it had before
achieving a first page position. And a greater percentage of that traffic will convert to sales—an incremental
42 percent more the first month, and nearly double the second month.
Executive summary continued on next page →

Traffic and conversion rate change for sites appearing on Google’s first page of results. /::

700

627%
600

500

400

337%
300

194%
200
142%
100%
100
Unique Vistors

Conversion Rate

Month Before First Month After Second Month After

Site first appears in the Top 10

Oneupweb ® | 877-568-7477 | www.oneupweb.com


©2005, All information in this document is the property of Oneupweb®
oneupweb
®

/ Integrated Search Engine Optimization & Marketing

Executive summary continued →

Pages 2 and 3 of Search Results /::

▪ The month prior to achieving a second or third page listing within Google’s natural
search results, sites averaged approximately seven unique visitors per search term.

▪ The first month after the listing appeared on the second or third page, the average
number of unique visitors increased to nearly 36 per search term.

▪ The second month after a listing appeared on the second or third page, average visitors
per keyword increased to approximately 65.

Page 1 of Search Results /::

▪ The month prior to achieving a first page listing within Google’s natural search results,
sites averaged approximately 14 unique visitors per search term.

▪ The first month after the listing appeared on the first page, the average number of
unique visitors increased to nearly 46 per search term.

▪ The second month after a listing appeared on the first page, average visitors per
keyword increased to approximately 86.

Entry into Average Unique Visitors Per Keyword


Google

Month Month 2 Months


Before After After

30 - 11 6.94 35.88 65.41

10 - 1 13.8 46.43 86.41

While many variables impact a successful web site’s performance, Oneupweb’s study demonstrates a clear
benefit to highly visibly search engine listings.

Oneupweb ® | 877-568-7477 | www.oneupweb.com


©2005, All information in this document is the property of Oneupweb®
oneupweb
®

/ Integrated Search Engine Optimization & Marketing

The Correlation Between Google Positions, Traffic


& Conversion Rates.

The Study /:: The study focused on businesses selling to consumers


online.Several companies were reviewed in a variety
The default setting for Google provides search- of industries.
ers with 10 results per page; page one lists a
total of 10 links to sites in the natural or organic
Oneupweb reviewed traffic and conversion data for
listings (not sponsored links). The search optimization
three separate time periods:
industry tells clients that very few searchers
review more than the first three pages of these ▪ the month before a site appeared in one
results. Intuitively, the industry believes traffic is of the two categories for a particular
highest for the first page—1 through 10 results or search term
the top 10. And just as intuitively, the industry
believes that time-starved, distracted users don’t ▪ the month after the site was included in
drill down past page three. How does that behavior one of the two categories for a particular
affect business? search term

In January 2005, Oneupweb collected web- ▪ the second month after the site was
site traffic and conversion data associated with included in one of the two categories for a
keywords entered into Google. The intent was particular search term
to determine what happens to traffic and con-
version rates once a site is listed on Google’s
second or third page. And then determine if there is While a typical SEO campaign sells for a year or
another change when a site reaches the first more, not just two months, our study focuses on this
Google page. We divided data into two time frame to show the most immediate changes
categories: the first category covered data from position brings.
Google’s second and third pages; the second
category covered data from Google’s first page.
Some keywords had monthly traffic figures as
high as 780 unique visitors per term; other terms
For the first category, Oneupweb only evalu- didn’t get a single visitor. Some had conversion
ated data from site listings entering Google’s rates as high as 50 percent and as low as zero.
second and third pages for the first time. Sites that Some clients requested optimization for narrowly
previously or routinely appeared on those pages for focused niche products they had in inventory. The
a particular keyword search weren’t included in order company’s site is positioned very well for these
to pinpoint an immediate change. keywords but consumer demand is extraordi-
narily limited. Other clients are well-optimized
And for the second category (data from Google’s for seasonal items before that season hits. As
first page listing), data is from the first time the site expected these terms didn’t get any traffic or con-
appeared in the top 10 for that keyword. versions at all, indicating that it does no good to
be well-optimized for a term consumers aren’t inter-
ested in. We included this data in the study as well
In our study, traffic is defined as new unique users
providing an accurate and conservative view of
—returning customers weren’t tracked as traffic. Traffic
SEO opportunity.
increases represent new Customers or first-time visitors.
Additionally conversions were defined as online sales.

Oneupweb ® | 877-568-7477 | www.oneupweb.com


©2005, All information in this document is the property of Oneupweb®
oneupweb
®

/ Integrated Search Engine Optimization & Marketing

Finally, note that we reviewed consumer-driven on-


line businesses with relatively short sales cycles. Those
942%
businesses with longer sales cycles will see changes in
900
conversion rates relative to their sales cycles.

800
Second and Third Google Pages /::
700
Being listed on the second and third Google
results pages improves a site’s traffic and con- 600

version rates for that term. Traffic increased 517


517%
percent for the first month after a site appeared 500

on page 2 or 3 and 942 percent during the


second month (as compared to the month 400

before the site hit page 2 or 3).


300

The table below shows the average number of unique


200
visitors per keyword for sites appearing on Google’s
100%
second and third page of results for each month. 100 Unique Vistors

▪ The month prior to achieving a second or third


page listing within Google’s natural search Month Before First Month After Second Month After

results, sites averaged approximately seven Site first appears in the Top 30-11

unique visitors per search term.

Traffic and conversion rate change for sites appearing on


▪ The first month after the listing appeared on the Google’s second or third page of results. /::
second or third page, the average number
of unique visitors increased to nearly 36 per base rate of conversion for comparison in the months
search term. after a site was listed.

▪ The second month after a listing appeared on While conversion rates tripled from the first month
the second or third page, average visitors per to the second month, the rates are very low (300
keyword increased to approximately 65. percent of nothing is still nothing). In order to sell
online, set your optimization goals on getting in the
top 10.
Entry into Average Unique Visitors Per Keyword
Google
Google’s First Page of Results /::
Month Month 2 Months
Before After After Traffic rates of sites entering the first page of Google’s
30 - 11 6.94 results for the first time have an average increase in
35.88 65.41
traffic of 337 percent the first month over the month
prior. The second month sees an increase in unique
In keeping with the industry’s rule of thumb visitors of 627 percent.
Oneupweb confirmed that websites falling below
page three don’t sell. In our research, not one sale
was recorded for a site below Google page three
for the time period. And so we couldn’t determine a

Oneupweb ® | 877-568-7477 | www.oneupweb.com


©2005, All information in this document is the property of Oneupweb®
oneupweb
®

/ Integrated Search Engine Optimization & Marketing

The table below shows the average number of the success of these sites for these keywords.
unique visitors per keyword for sites appearing on Other factors include the number of competi-
Google’s first page of results for each month. tors, the level of optimization, and the number of
other (non-competitive) businesses targeting that
▪ The month prior to achieving a first page
same term.
listing within Google’s natural search results,
sites averaged approximately 14 unique
By averaging both months of post optimization
visitors per search term.
data, Oneupweb minimizes market effects like
seasonality on the trends. Using those two-month
▪ The first month after the listing appeared on
averages, keywords appearing on Google’s first
the first page, the average number of unique
page for the first time can expect traffic increas-
visitors increased to nearly 46 per search term.
es in excess of 480 percent and conversion rate
increases of more than 200 percent within a
▪ The second month after a listing appeared few months.
on the first page, average visitors per
keyword increased to approximately 86. How to Apply This Information to Your Business /::

Oneupweb is confident this data is a conserva-


tive view of SEO opportunity—many Oneupweb
Entry into Average Unique Visitors Per Keyword campaigns have greater success rates. Use this
Google
information to help SEO skeptics or those un-
Month Month 2 Months familiar with SEO understand its effectiveness
Before After After in general. Combine this research with Oneupweb
10 - 1 13.8 46.43 86.41 case studies and an initial assessment from a repu-
table SEO provider to get a clearer understanding of
how a campaign can benefit your online business.
While the rate of traffic improvement isn’t as steep
as the change seen when a site first appears on Strong search engine optimization programs
pages two and three, the final average audience is have goals based on a company’s current sales,
larger overall. marketplace potential, competitive situation
and target audience. Oneupweb does not rec-
Conversion rates for words first entering Google’s first ommend using these percentages as a bench-
page of results follow a similar pattern increasing 142 mark for your optimization efforts or to evaluate the
percent the first month after and 194 percent the performance of a site for a single keyword. There
second month after. are too many mitigating factors in individual
cases to apply these aggregate trends to
Once a site is positioned in the top 10 for a keyword, individual businesses.
that site has more visitors and a larger percentage of
them purchase from the site. Traffic and purchasing patterns vary by industry.
Oneupweb performed this study hypothesizing that
When Oneupweb reviewed the list of sites achieving being in the top 10 results is better than being in the
a top-10 position for a particular search term, we not- top 30—and being below the top 30 is like being
ed that more than 75 percent debuted there, without invisible. Clearly, the study establishes that trend.
previous listings on Google pages 2 or 3. Oneupweb
believes that professional skill had much to do with

Oneupweb ® | 877-568-7477 | www.oneupweb.com


©2005, All information in this document is the property of Oneupweb®
oneupweb
®

/ Integrated Search Engine Optimization & Marketing

Data was averaged across the entire category (“first

77%
page” or “second & third pages”.) The month before
the term hit Google’s first page or second and third
pages was used as a baseline. Percentage changes
were figured using that month as 100 percent.

Several paired-samples t-tests were computed


to determine the strength of the relationships be-
tween position, traffic, and conversions. Oneupweb
When Oneupweb reviewed the list of sites achieving found that there were statistically significant relation-
a top-10 position for a particular search term, we
ships between traffic and appearance on the sec-
noted that more than 75 percent debuted there,
without previous listings on Google pages 2 or 3. ond and third pages, both when comparing one
month before with one month after (t(31) = 2.3446,
Methodology /:: p < .05) and one month before with the second month
after (t(31) = 2.4959, p < .05). While there were strong
relationships between conversions and appearance
Oneupweb reviewed the traffic and conversion rates
on the second and third pages at both one month
for more than 100 keywords for a variety of online
and two months after, they were not statistically
retail sites in a variety of industries. Keyword data met
significant (t(31) = 1.9126, p = .0651 and t(31) = 1.2139,
the following criteria:
p = 1.2139, respectively.)
▪ Professionally optimized by Oneupweb

Relationships between traffic and appearance on


▪ Debuted in Google results pages on either the first page of results were statistically significant.
page 1 or pages 2-3 Comparing one month prior and one month after first
appearance on the first page, traffic increased 336%
▪ Appeared on Google results in 2004 (t(81) = 5.5461, p < .001). At two months after, traffic
increased 625% (t(81) = 5.2076, p < .001). Conversions
▪ Used ROI trax® to collect unique visitor and also increased at one month after (t(81) = 2.7976,
sales conversion data p < .05) and at two months after (t(81) = 4.0124,
p < .001)

Keyword results were then divided into two catego-


ries: data from keywords appearing on Google’s
first page and data from keywords appearing
on Google’s second and third pages combined.
Oneupweb reviewed the traffic and conversion rates
for each of three months: Contact /::

▪ The month prior to the listing appearing in


the results casestudies@oneupweb.com

▪ The month after the listing appeared in http://www.oneupweb.com


the results

877.568.7477
▪ The second month after the listing
appeared in the results
P.O. Box 790 | Suttons Bay MI 49682

Oneupweb ® | 877-568-7477 | www.oneupweb.com


©2005, All information in this document is the property of Oneupweb®